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History of St. Patrick’s Day

Photo by Sudipta Mondal on

Photo by Sudipta Mondal on

St. Patrick’s Day occurs each year on March 17- we typically observe it by wearing green and running around pinching those who forgot to do so (much to the dismay of parents and teachers everywhere). Why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and what are its origins?

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According to, St. Patrick’s Day is an observance of the anniversary of St. Patrick’s death in the fifth century. Because the holiday occurs during the Lenten season, the Lenten ban on eating meat was temporarily lifted for an evening feast. Irish citizens celebrated the day by attending church, drinking, dancing, and feasting on bacon and cabbage. St. Patrick lived during the fifth century, was kidnapped at age 17 and brought to Ireland to be enslaved. He later escaped and returned to Ireland, and is thought to have brought Christianity to the nation. In fact, the most well-known story about him is that he explained the Holy Trinity using a shamrock.

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No one knows for sure when the first St. Patrick’s Day was observed, but it was during the ninth or tenth century as a Roman Catholic holiday with a traditional feast. Today, St. Patrick’s Day is observed in countries around the world. Popular St. Patrick’s Day recipes include Irish soda bread, corned beef and cabbage and champ. Some cities hold a St. Patrick’s Day parade, while others honor the day with parties and celebrations.

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People of Irish heritage (like me!) enjoy celebrating the holiday as a nod to their ancestors. How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

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